Difference Between Vowels and Consonants

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 15, 2023

       

Difference Between Vowels and Consonants

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Introduction

There are vowels and consonants in the English alphabet. Out of the 26 alphabets, there are 5 vowels: A, E, I, O, and U. The other alphabet letters are consonants. The alphabet is made up of vowels and consonants, yet there is a significant difference between them. For a very long time, the study of general phonetics was preoccupied with the distinctions between vowels and consonants, as well as the best scientific and empirical bases on which they may be described.

There are many ways to answer this question, according to phoneticians. A vowel is a sound that is produced when the throat or mouth is completely free to release air from the mouth. When a portion of the mouth or throat partly blocks airflow, a consonant is produced.

Vowels vs Consonants

A vowel is a speaking sound produced by the vocal cords vibrating but without audible friction in a relatively open shape of the vocal tract. A consonant is a fundamental speech sound in which at least some of the breath is blocked. A vowel is spoken with an open vocal tract, while a consonant is pronounced with a closed or partially closed vocal tract. This is the basic distinction between vowels and consonants. Consonants sound different from vowels. The length, loudness, and quality of vowels vary. Consonants are used to break up the vowel stream while we speak. Vowels need less finesse when articulating consonants. Consonants are spoken sounds that are produced by either completely halting or partly stopping the airflow expelled from the mouth.

Vowels may refer to both vowel sounds and alphabetic letters. A, E, I, O, and U are the vowel letters. B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, and Z are all consonant letters. Because not all of the air is blocked when a consonant letter is created, these letters are referred to as semivowels in phonetics.

Vowels and consonants are the two groups of speech sounds that are most often used. When a sound is spoken, the airflow is either entirely or partly blocked, creating a consonant sound. A vowel sound, on the other hand, is created when the airflow is unhindered. The rhyme, or shift, of our language, is created by the vowel sounds. The 13–15 English vowel sounds are denoted by six vowel letters. Although consonants may appear alone or in groups, they must be joined by a vowel to produce a syllable.

Difference Between Vowels and Consonants in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Vowels Consonants
Meaning Basic speech sounds like vowels are produced by an open vocal tract. Basic speech sounds known as consonants are produced when the vocal folds are partly or fully closed.
Total number of alphabets The vowels total five. There are 21 of them.
The total amount of English sounds English has around 20 different vowel sounds. In English, there are around 24 consonant sounds.
Syllable Syllables are composed mostly of vowels. For the creation of a syllable, the consonant needs a vowel.
Speech sound Speech sound in a vowel is unrestricted by the vocal tract. Speech sound in consonants is constrained in the vocal tract and is accompanied by vocal cord vibration.

What are Vowels?

A vowel is a speaking sound that may be produced without the airflow from the lungs is significantly restricted. When saying it, the lips, teeth, and tongue are separated from one another. The alphabets have five vowels: a, e, i, o, and u. The letter y is sometimes seen as a vowel. There may be a certain vowel in a word with a particular speaking sound in distinct terms. As a consequence, certain vowel sounds cannot be represented only by vowels. The vowel is a term that is often used to refer to both written symbols and vowel sounds. Vowels acquire their particular qualities as a result of changes in the overall size and structure of the mouth cavity. The highest point on the tongue's body compared to other points on a vertical scale is referred to as the vowel height dimension. The highest point on the tongue's body is referred to as the vowel backness dimension, which is measured on a horizontal axis. Three arbitrary divisions along the height and backness dimensions generate a grid that divides the region of the mouth where vowels may be produced.

Each sound assigned to a region of the grid corresponds to a certain vowel symbol. For instance, the letter a has a distinct sound in the phrases hat and create. A vowel is a specific form of sound in which the throat or mouth is never closed during vocalisation. Contrast consonants with vowels, which are sounds that have one or more places when the air is halted. Words in almost all languages must have at least one vowel. There are several ways to pronounce each vowel, but the two most popular ones are long and short. Typically, when two vowels are placed close to one another or when the letter E is added to the end of a word, There is a long vowel sound produced. Long vowels have the same sound as the vowel letter itself.

Typographic symbols are often used to indicate these pronunciations; a curved symbol placed over a vowel indicates a short pronunciation. In contrast to long vowels, small vowel sounds are uttered in a shorter form. The secondary vowel that most often modifies vowels with extended pronunciations is usually silent. Although the most frequent vowel pronunciations are long and short, numerous words with vowel combinations defy these conventions. The tongue's position may sometimes change while a vowel is being spoken. As a consequence, the vowel has a distinct beginning character and a changing quality. Pure vowels or monophthongs, such as all the vowels listed above, are those in which there is no change in the character of the vowel. Vowel glide, on the other hand, refers to a change in a vowel's quality. A diphthong is produced by a single quality change. In English, there are eight diphthongs:

  1. /eɪ/ as in ‘say’ 
  2. /É‘ÊŠ/ or /aÊŠ/ as in cow
  3. /ɑɪ/ or /aɪ/ as in ‘fine’ 
  4. /ɔɪ/ as in ‘boy’
  5. /ɪə/ as in ‘dear’ 
  6. /eÉ™/ as in ‘air’ 
  7. /ÊŠÉ™/ as in gruel and 
  8. /əʊ/ as in ‘home’

A triphthong is produced when a vowel undergoes a twofold change in quality.

What are Consonants?

Consonants are characterised as the sounds produced by momentary blockage of the air stream that exits the mouth. A significant group of sounds found in all human languages are consonants. Consonants are a significant group of sounds that, together with vowels, make up a language's phoneme inventory. All languages across the globe use consonants, yet there are significant variances. In certain languages, vowels may outnumber consonants. Consonants are noises that are created when there is some degree of airflow blockage or when there is an impediment in the airstream. English pronunciation relies heavily on consonants, particularly when identifying sound-producing organs. Understanding how the oral organs are involved is essential because certain blockages in the organs cause the consonant sounds to be produced during articulation. While pronouncing consonants, the use of the organs to create sounds might become a crucial prerequisite. Notably, certain consonants in the English alphabet have characteristics with vowels.

The production of consonant sounds, as opposed to vowel sounds, involves compressing the flow of air at different levels of pronouncing. Consonants may be divided in a variety of ways depending on their voicing status since phonics, which is normally engaged in sound generation, causes their sounds to vary from one another. It is crucial to employ consonants correctly because of the significant contribution they provide to speech comprehension. The majority of English accents use the following 24 consonant sounds represented by 21 consonant letters: H, J, K, L, M, B, C, D, F, G, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, and Z. (sometimes Y). If the letter "y" is used at the beginning of a word, a consonant sound is produced; if used at the end of a word, a vowel sound is produced. Consonants may be divided into voiced and unvoiced consonants, which are the two main groups. Unvoiced consonants do not utilise the vibrations of the larynx's vocal folds, whereas voiced consonants do. By placing your finger on the neck and listening for vibrations, it is simple to distinguish between voiced and unvoiced consonants.

When comparing consonants and vowels, it is important to keep in mind that, in contrast to vowels, the pronunciation of consonants causes some obstruction in the mouth or lips. Consonants come in harsh and soft varieties. In other words, depending on the location initially, certain consonants are spoken strongly yet softly to the other. Picked high back of the tongue to the hard palate, soft consonants are formed. Each consonant is uttered loudly. Consonants only have a voice if noise is added to the tone, voice, or consonant; otherwise, they are voiceless.

Examples:

/b/        ball, hobby, herb

/d/        dog, added, played

/dÊ’/      jam,fudge, danger

/g/        green, hug, league

/v/        video, move, of

/ð/        this, with, mother

Depending on how they are spoken, the consonants are divided into 24 groups. How the restriction or barrier affects the sound while it is being spoken also serves to classify the changes. As an example, the noises generated by bilabial constriction—that is, the restriction between both lips—will be distinguishable from those produced by alveolar obstruction—that is, the obstruction between the tongue and the alveolar ridge. Consonants may be divided in a variety of ways depending on their voicing status since their sounds do not coincide because phonics, which is normally engaged in the generation of the sounds, is involved. Consonants have a crucial part in how speeches are organised.

It is important to correctly identify the sounds made while pronouncing particular vowels and consonants since they might be rather difficult. It has also been noted that consonant uses in speech are a little more complicated than vowel uses. Open voice recordings are used to enunciate each syllable. Several language pathologists have also noted that the pronunciations of the consonants need a great deal of forethought. Even the appropriate planning of the consonant pronunciation is greatly influenced by the presence or lack of voicing.

Difference Between Vowels and Consonants In Points

  1. Vowels create speech sound with no vocal cord constriction, while consonants produce speech sound with a vocal cord constriction.
  2. When mouth, teeth, and lips contact in vowels, there is no disruption; but, when mouth, teeth, and lips touch in consonants, there is disruption.
  3. There are 21 consonants and five vowels in the English alphabet.
  4. The consonants depend on the vowel to form the syllable, making the vowel the most important component of the syllable.
  5. There are 24 consonant sounds and 20 vowel sounds in the English language overall.

Conclusion

Vowels and consonants each have distinctive speech sounds that set them apart from one another. Between vowels and consonants, there is a substantial variation in the way speech sounds are produced during pronunciation. A vowel's speech sound is unrestricted, but a consonant's speech sound is somewhat restricted by the vocal cords. Without shutting any areas of the throat or mouth, we produce vowel sounds by opening our mouths and allowing air to pass through them. Consonant sounds are produced by restricting airflow in some manner using the tongue, lips, teeth, or roof of the mouth. Basic speech sounds like vowels are spoken with an open vowel tract. Basic speech sounds called consonants are produced by closing the vocal folds completely or partly. Contrarily, a consonant causes the vocal tract to partially or completely close, often with the vocal cord vibrating as well. A sound wave is produced by the vocal chords as they vibrate, and this wave travels via your mouth and nose. Which vowel or consonant sound is made depends on where your tongue, lips, and teeth are located. There are twenty-one consonants and five vowels. Vowel and consonant sounds outweigh symbols in number. while there are 24 consonants and 20 vowel sounds overall.

References

  • What is Vowel and Consonants? Different between Vowel and Consonants (talk2legends.com)
  • The difference between consonants and vowels | Spelfabet
  • Difference Between Vowels and Consonants | Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms

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"Difference Between Vowels and Consonants." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 26 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-vowels-and-consonants-1196>.



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